Tinkering With The Hydroelectric System

With my brother and nephew “in the house” we took a walk up the hill to do some noodling about the penstock (pipeline) for the hydroelectric system.  Since it froze last winter I had awaited its thaw and repair, the former occurring in late April and the latter after I returned home from the Studley exhibit.  I did not complete the penstock all the way to the original capturing basin as the last 400 feet or so were quite difficult and gained very little additional head (the amount of water fall in the system) — only about 2 psi.  For the mean time I had simply immersed the end of the penstock into the creek bed.


With the three of us in hand I located a near perfect location for the penstock head only about 40 feet upstream from the temporary location.  It was a place where the creek narrowed and one bank was a huge rock and the other bank a movable pile of rocks that could be configured to a width of just a couple feet.  With a little bit of bed and bank reconfiguration it seemed like a darned good place to construct a new diverging and capturing dam.


To test the idea I went to the hardware store for a couple hundred pounds of sand, and grabbing a handfull of feed sacks to use as sandbags, backed my trusty 4WD pickup up the hill to be adjacent to the location.  In short order we had a less temporary but fully functional sandbag structure in place and the system was up and running with excellent performance.  To enhance the new basin I built a debris catcher to place over the spot and reduce the amount of leaves and sticks to clean from the intake.  My hope is that the new basin needs housekeeping only every month or so.  Once I am back on my feet I will fabricate a little more functional debris trap for the end of the penstock, but that will have to wait another six weeks or so.